Dr. Mercer teaches religious studies at East Carolina University, where he recently received a university Scholar—Teacher award. Most of his research (4 books authored or edited, 25 articles) is in religion and culture and biblical studies, with an emphasis on the role of the Bible in modern culture. His current projects include the following.
FUNDAMENTALISM. He is trained in clinical psychology and practiced professionally part-time for over a decade. He was known as the "go-to" therapist for clients where religion was a factor in their mental distress and/or behavioral dysfunction. In both his teaching and clinical practice, he has worked extensively with fundamentalists. He gives public lectures on this topic based on his recent book, Slaves to Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind. With a foreword by Martin Marty, the book provides a novel—and controversial—psychological analysis of fundamentalism. Although the book is focused on Christian fundamentalism, the insights are valuable for understanding extreme religion in all traditions and especially so in our post 9-11 climate.
RADICAL LIFE EXTENSION. How would you like to live for 1,000 years—or longer? Dr. Mercer is one of the few scholars considering the religious implications of radical life extension, a term that refers to science and technology that could provide extreme (perhaps indefinite) longevity of healthy human life. His recent co-edited book, Religion and the Implications of Radical Life Extension, is published by Palgrave Macmillan. Mercer is a founding member and first chair of the American Academy of Religion "Transhumanism and Religion" consultation. Whether such science should proceed or not is a legitimate question, and Dr. Mercer wants to promote reflection on the question that stems from progressive religion that has no presumptive bias against science.
Please click for an "Expanded Bibliography and Other Resources" on this topic (PDF, 152 KB).
THE MONASTIC PROJECT. Dr. Mercer is the originator of The Monastic Project, a comprehensive program used by professors around the country that speaks to a deep yearning many people have for substantive religious experience that goes deeper, offers more, and requires more than either fundamentalism or the easy, quick, sensual froth offered up by much contemporary religion. The Monastic Project, with guidelines drawn from various monastic traditions, yields results transformative beyond religious experience, such as improved mental and physical health, clarification of life goals and purpose, improved relationships, increased awareness, and better sleep.
Dr. Mercer's speaking engagements include public lectures on fundamentalism, the religious implications of radical life extension science, and The Monastic Project.